Squanto is a high-born Indian warrior from a tribe on the Atlantic coast of North America which devotes its life to hunting and rivalry with a neighboring tribe. Everything changes forever after a ship arrives from England, prospecting the region's commercial potential for the rich Sir George, who uses all his wealth and influence only for ever greater profit. When it returns, several Indians find themselves captives on board, including Squanto. The arrogant Christians consider themselves utterly superior to the 'heathen savages' and treat them as brutally as they do beasts. Squanto fights a bear in a circus, not understanding how men can be so cruel to that creature either, and manages a spectacular escape, but where must he go? He finds shelter and help in a rural monastery, where it takes his protector some effort to prevent the others considering the unknown as diabolical. In time sir George's men come looking for him most brutally, but he escapes again, now determined to find a ... Written by
Released in 1994, "Squanto: A Warrior's Tale" chronicles the life of Squanto (Adam Beach), who was taken captive in 1605 and taken to Europe where he's rescued by some monks, learns English, and embraces Christianity. When he returns to his native land years later in modern-day Massachusetts he is devastated at what he finds, but he helps the newly arrived Pilgrims in 1621, which makes way for the first Thanksgiving meal.
While everything stated above is true, the actual story is severely truncated for the movie, which they HAD to do or it'd be a 4-hour movie. In reality Tisquantum, aka Squanto, was captured and taken to Europe no less than three times between 1605-1619.The first and third times he was taken to England while the second time to Spain. He found sanctuary in the monastery during his second kidnapping to Spain. Also, he largely learned English during his first enslavement in England so he could teach ship captains his Native American language and to help in a later expedition to guide, interpret and map the New England coast. This first excursion to England lasted 9 years. His second excursion to Europe lasted approximately 3 years and the his third one a matter of months.
So, while the gist of the story is true, the details are quite different. The movie also throws in some highly unlikely episodes, like a fight with a brown bear in an arena in England and a Puritan/Native confrontation at the Plymouth settlement. As far as the first goes, there's simply no record that any Native Americans fought for their lives in arenas in Europe, which isn't to say that something LIKE it never happened. In regards to the second, while the people of the Mayflower were rejected by some Natives (who shot arrows at them) they got along with the Wampanoags near the Plymouth settlement and signed a peace treaty that lasted fifty years.
If you can ignore the dubious factors, "Squanto: A Warrior's Tale" is an enjoyable movie. It could've even been great, like 1992's "The Last of the Mohicans," but it's hindered by Disney-fication. Yes, this is a Walt Disney production. I was never a fan of Disney flicks, even as a tyke. I always preferred the un-sanitized real deal and couldn't stand the obviously artificial "family friendly" approach of Disney productions. That said, Disney does a pretty believable job with "Squanto." It's great to get a glimpse of what it was like during that era, but it unfortunately supports the myth that North America was a veritable Garden of Eden before Europeans came, which wasn't true in the least. The numerous Native tribes were in conflict all over the continent and they regularly practiced torture tactics on captive Natives. See the excellent "Black Robe" (1991) for the brutal truth. There's one lame scene where Epenow (Eric Schweig) informs Squanto that he learned how to lie from the white man. Yeah, like Natives didn't know what a lie was before Europeans came (rolling my eyes). To its credit, the movie shows both the good and bad sides of the Europeans and shows that Squanto embraced the virtues of Christianity.
The film runs 102 minutes and was shot in Louisbourg Harbour, Louisbourg, Nova Scotia.
GRADE: C+ or B- (5.5/10)
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?